Cuts Killed

Mar 16, 2017 by

The Senate considered three amendments to cut state services including K-12 and higher education tonight and defeated all three by large margins.

The first amendment with a 2% across the board cut (requiring the cut to K-12 to be from non-instructional budget lines) was offered by Senator Wagle (R-Wichita). After a lengthy debate, the amendment failed on a roll call vote of 7 – 33. The seven Senators voting in favor of cutting schools were Alley, Fitzgerald, Lynn, Olson, Pyle, Tyson, and Wagle.

The second amendment, offered by Senator Dennis Pyle (R-Hiawatha), was the same but with a cut of 1% across the board. This amendment failed on a roll call vote of 10 – 30. The ten senators voting in favor of cutting schools were Alley, Fitzgerald, Lynn, Masterson, Olson, Petersen, Pilcher-Cook, Pyle, Tyson, and Wagle.

The third and final cut amendment, also offered by Senator Pyle, would have cut schools by 0.5%. This amendment failed on a vote of 6-34. The six Senators voting to cut education were Alley, Olson, Pilcher-Cook, Pyle, Tyson, and Wagle. You will note that Senator Lynn voted NO on this amendment. She explained her change by saying she had voted for larger cuts.

On an emergency final action vote after 9:00 pm, the rescission bill WITHOUT CUTS TO STATE SERVICES OR EDUCATION passed on a vote of 27-13.

 

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What About Those Cuts?

Mar 16, 2017 by

The Senate went into session and quickly recessed until “the sound of the gavel.” This would be an indication that something leadership wants to pass is in trouble. We would assume that the Senate President may understand that her cuts amendment will not pass and has recessed to work on persuading members to join her cause.

The Senate reconvened about 4:20 and started work on their list of bills. HB 2052 is down the list and they are engaged in debates and amendments on other bills at this time. We will watch this tonight and report to you tomorrow.

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School Finance! School Cuts?

Mar 15, 2017 by

Senate Likely to Debate Rescission Bill Tomorrow

Governor Brownback and Senator Susan Wagle

The rescission bill (Senate Sub for HB 2052) we discussed earlier this week will almost certainly be up for debate tomorrow afternoon in the Senate. The bill does not contain any cuts to state agencies but Senate President Susan Wagle (R-Wichita) told the press today that she intends to offer an amendment containing across the board cuts to state agencies for fiscal year 2017 (which ends on June 30) during the debate.

Wagle has not said what level those cuts might be except that they will be less than 5%. The Senate earlier was to consider a bill with a 5% cut to K-12 education but it was pulled from debate when it became clear it could never pass. Whatever the cuts turn out to be, if passed they will apply to both K-12 and higher education.

We do not believe there is support in the Senate for any cuts but it’s best to be ready!

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More Discussion on School Finance Bill

The House K-12 Budget Committee has spent the last three days trying to come to a consensus on what will be in the “Chairman’s Bill” on school finance. Chairman Larry Campbell (R-Olathe) has announced that his bill will be ready early next week. He then plans to give a little time for it to be digested by the committee and stakeholders before holding hearings which he suggested may last several days.

So far it appears that the formula will be similar to the old formula – likely a base amount with weightings to get to special needs such as at-risk and bilingual students. There was some discussion about how those weightings should be calculated. Today there seemed to be a general consensus to stick with free lunch for at-risk although there could be an effort to create a “blended” formula combining free lunch with students receiving services through a Department of Children and Families program. There was also an effort today to add additional all-risk funding for students not meeting at least two of the KSDE at-risk indicators. This would be similar to the old “non-proficient” at risk. KNEA has been a strong proponent of this to ensure that students who live in wealthy communities but are not performing satisfactorily get the help they need to be successful.

Not much has been said about other parts of the old formula including capital outlay, new facilities weighting, and ancillary weighting. Also brought up in passing were declining enrollment weighting and cost of living weighting but there was little discussion. It is hard to tell if these will be included in the Chairman’s bill or not.

There was support today for all day Kindergarten and pre-school school readiness programs as well as mentoring for teachers and professional development.

Two contentious issues surfaced yesterday when Brenda Landwehr (R-Wichita) suggested an expansion of the tuition tax credit or voucher program and Scott Schwab (R-Olathe) suggested merit pay for teachers. Neither were discussed in depth.

Also unknown is how the bill might address accountability. Some believe accountability belongs with the State Board of Education and KSDE while others seem to want it addressed in the finance bill.

It is possible that this will be a bare-bones proposal. The Chairman told his committee members to feel free to prepare to offer any amendments they may have in mind.

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